The Science of Sustainability

Hiking Through Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

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Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve can easily be missed: just off Highway 280 in the city of Woodside, the entrance is blocked by a rusted metal gate with a small sign that reads 'No Tresspassing, Area Patrolled.'

But some of the folks at QUEST – including yours truly – got a special tour of the preserve. I joined reporter David Gorn and biologist Scott Loarie on a three hour hike around Jasper Ridge's Searsville Lake.

I learned that plant-life on the preserve, and most endemic California plant-life, are in trouble.

At least, that's what Loarie and his team at Stanford predict. "If plants can't adapt to the climate changes," says Loarie, "Then by the end of the century two-thirds of California plants face an 80 percent reduction."

So which plants are most likely to go as the global climate changes, well, the plants that have a hard time with seed dispersion. Plants like Bay Laurel, the California Buckeye, Madrone and the Western Burning Bush have seeds that aren't easily dispersed. This gives them a very concentrated zone for growth. If the climate shifts slightly in that particular region, then the these California natives could all die out.

Bay Laurel

The plants that do have an easier time are those with a wide seed dispersion – like the beautiful but dangerous Poison Oak, the Coyote Bush, Clarkia, Virgin's Bower and Box Elder Maple. These plants all have small seeds that are easily dispersed by the wind, or by birds. By dispersing their seeds to various climates, these plants will have a better chance of surviving.

Virgin's Bower

So which California plants will survive a century from now? It's hard to say. But what is definite is that preserves like Jasper Ridge are crucial for monitoring and protecting California's unique plant life.


View a slideshow of the"Disappearing Plants" Radio Report online, as well as find additional links and resources.
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Category: Biodiversity, Climate, Environment, Radio

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Shuka Kalantari

About the Author ()

Shuka Kalantari is a freelance writer and a health and medicine journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. She has written for San Francisco Downtown Magazine, Common Ground Magazine, and Time Inc.’s health website, Health.com. Shuka is currently working for KPFA Radio's: Voices of the Middle East and North Africa in Berkeley, and an intern for KQED's QUEST in San Francisco.
  • http://www.libertybotanicals.com Janet Vallance

    MORE poison oak… if you believe you might have been in poison oak- sand, clay or dirt in general will help get the oils off. Mugwort, which grows near poison oak works really well to neutralize the oils from clothes, dogs and skin. Liquid dish soap, course laundry soap and or baking soda work very well getting the oils off. Remember get the oils of of you.. For those without immunity oils on the skin equal rash.